One of the most dramatic Warbirds ever to fly in Australia was a MiG 21 UTI which was operational at Williamtown RAAF base for several years from 1994. The mighty MiG was a Czechoslovakia built machine and was delivered to the Polish Air Force in 1973. The aircraft was purchased by Australian Dick McIntosh in 1992 and it was restored to flight in 1994, often flown by Australian Air Force Pilot Phil “Frawls” Frawley and was painted in the blood red colors of the Indian Air Force ‘Red Scorchers’ and registered appropriately as VH-XXI.
Sadly the economics and logistics of operating such an advanced machine took their toll and it had to be retired after a few years. The MiG was a huge crowd draw at many airshows in its short but spectacular career down under. VH-XXI now resides in the Fighter World Museum at RAAF Williamtown. Here are some of my photographs of the MiG 21.
Warbirds Online was fortunate to be invited to a flight of the aircraft in its heyday by Phil Frawley all those years ago and it was a very memorable experience. Phil took most of the runway and then stood the mighty fighter on its tail and disappeared into the sky like a missile being launched and then performed a beautiful routine of flypasts and aerobatics. The MiG is not that maneuverable, however it is an awesome interceptor.
No other MiG 21 has flown in Australia, however there is said to be an example under restoration to fly in Western Australia and a rumor of another possibly being imported into Queensland. We certainly hope one or both of these prospects come off!
© John Parker 2014